It’s been a while since I covered my newest discoveries on Game Pass, but given that I’ve been spending an awful lot of time working my way through Square Enix’s excellent Tomb Raider trilogy (now finding myself around halfway through the third part, Shadow of the Tomb Raider), I’ve not spent as much time exploring Game Pass titles as I usually do. However, considering that I currently find myself in lockdown, I’ve still had a bit of time to check a few games out at least…

Crackdown 3

Though I’ve talked about how unfair I think Crackdown 3’s commercial and critical reception was, even just dipping into it now that I’m in the later stages of the game has become a little frustrating. There’s some ridiculous, agility based challenges that are made extremely difficult because the camera won’t behave itself – which is unfair and incredibly annoying. To miss jumps repeatedly because the camera won’t play ball is just poor from a game design point of view – it’s the sort of thing a game of Crackdown 3’s nature should have ironed out, especially given the years it spent in development. I’ve had an awful lot of fun with the game in general, but it’s hard to ignore the little niggly bits of design like this that should have been taken care of.

Gears 5

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Due to a Microsoft Rewards points promotion, I gave some of the competitive multiplayer modes of Gears 5 a whirl recently. It’s an astonishingly beautiful game from a technical point of view; incredibly detailed and yet silky smooth. I mostly tried out the new Gridiron mode, which gives two teams a ‘ball’ to collect and an endzone to reach across familiar Gears arenas; it was a lot of fun, though my inexperience and low level in the game really didn’t help against opponents who were clearly far more familiar – and therefore skilled – at the game in general. Not really for me, but I can definitely see why it’s such a popular online game.

Monster Hunter World

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Having not played a Monster Hunter title at any length before, this was all new to me. I gave it a try and was almost instantly overwhelmed with just how much stuff there is to keep track of, upgrade, purchase and kill. Carrying out a few missions offline and online, I can see the appeal – but it’s not a game that is really for me, in all honesty.

Journey to the Savage Planet

Journey to the Savage Planet Screenshot

Much of the time, I find myself drawn to the smaller scale, lower budget games, rather than the overblown, big budget blockbusters. In my opinion, indie games tend to be a lot more interesting in terms of their mechanics and themes; Journey to the Savage Planet is no exception. It looks ever so slightly like procedurally generated exploration of No Man’s Sky, but it’s actually a tightly designed game of first person exploration with a brilliantly funny script, some wonderfully bizarre creatures and a fantastically colourful visual aesthetic. It’s an awful lot of fun and a pleasant surprise after the disappointment I’ve felt with all of the bigger scale games I’ve played recently.

So there we have it. Another few games played between sessions of exploration with Lara Croft; despite the disappointment I’ve felt with the games I’ve played – which hasn’t been helped by the fact that I’ve been so focused on my adventures with Tomb Raider – I’m still glad I’ve been able to try out games I otherwise wouldn’t have played at all; and I’ve found a genuinely underrated gem in Journey to the Savage Planet, it seems.

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